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Sunday, January 21, 2007

My, how times have changed...

...and those of my generation don't even know it.

I' ve been reading some fascinating posts by Mike from Arizona and his "Mystery Coach" at his "Champions Everywhere" blog. Mike was kind enugh to e-mail me two articles on running form, one written by Bill Bowerman and the other by Arthur Lydiard.

The first was published in Sports Illustrated way back in August of 1971 (when I was about 11 weeks old). First of all, it struck me as very different to see an 8-page coaching article in SI. When I began to read the text, it became obvious that whereas today's ESPN-addled sports fan is primarily expected to passively watch sports, the sports fan of 40 years ago was assumed to be someone who participated as much as he watched. And back then, you actually did see SI covers dedicated to hunting and fishing--a strange thought now, since those activities are not spectator-friendly (just ask Harry Whittington).

Now, if you were brought up in that environment, had tough-as-nails parents that lived through the Depression and World War II, and had unprecedented amounts of lesiure time, then your generation just might start to produce lots of top-level distance runners. The Baby Boomers actually did this, and once their generation passed out of their prime athletic years it was all over for the USA.

While I'm definitely a Gen-Xer and my older brother is a Baby-Boomer, I was raised in exactly that kind of environment and my attitude towards running and training was out of step with the 80s and much more in tune with the 70s. In fact, I became a runner in the 7th grade (1983) because of the vaguely (but safely) counter-culturish aura it had from the earliest days of my memory. I work extremely hard at running, and sometimes I think it's a useless endeavor considering my abject lack of talent. But that's the kind of thinking you get in a post-Reagan Revolution America, the idea that immediate success is the only thing worth having. Nowadays it's quaint and odd to believe that struggling for success through ups and downs is a reward in itself.

1 comment:

jen said...

What would be even more quaint and in tune with the 70s would be to enjoy running for its own sake, work on your form to make running more enjoyable, and not worry how you measure up against other runners. I think that there are a lot of people who would be a little embarassed to enjoy running a lot if they thought they would never be even an age-group award winner, but why? Why do you necessarily have to be a lot better than everyone else at something in order to enjoy it? Besides, you routinely come in third in your age group at races, which is a lot of success for someone who supposedly has no talent.